Hot Take: Remember when Sacha Baron Cohen was relevant and over-the-top shocking? Well, now he’s just over-the-top shocking.
2016 is a lesson in timing. Deadpool was a good movie that did great things at the box office because of one of the weakest February lineups in years. That’s not to say Deadpool isn’t a very good movie and shouldn’t be applauded for it’s R-rated efforts, it just shouldn’t be ignored that it’s toughest competition was How to Be Single. Zoolander 2 was an awful sequel and failed miserably at the box office. Ride Along 2 and London Has Fallen were equally terrible yet didn’t totally bomb thanks to not waiting 15 years to release a follow-up. They both might even squeeze out a third. Then there’s The Brothers Grimsby. Sacha Baron Cohen hasn’t released a film since 2012’s The Dictator. At this point, the last time Cohen was truly relevant was 2006’s Borat. In 2006, his core audience was under-25 and as they’ve aged, they’ve become increasingly disinterested in his brand of shock cinema. Early returns expect The Brothers Grimsby to be a huge box office flop, pulling in under $4 million in it’s first weekend. No one took the hint that Cohen’s extension on his 15 minutes had run out.
How was the movie?
Before we get to that, let’s talk more timing. Last year, Melissa McCarthy took her brand of humor (of the pratfall/vulgar insult variety) and applied it to a spy spoof. Spy (such a creative name) was a huge hit and even nominated for a Golden Globe. However, it’s hard to defend Spy being more than an average film benefitting from the perfect timing of a currently very audience-friendly McCarthy and a spoof in a genre that seems very open to being spoofed.
How was the movie???
Then there’s The Brothers Grimsby. Cohen came out of nowhere with this film and even dragged out some of his old characters to try and promote the film. In an attempt at humor, Grimsby takes swings at everything from Donald Trump to an elephant’s vagina. Each joke is more ridiculous than the last and most are layered in some kind of grossness that will likely make the audience wince more than laugh. Even when it does make you laugh, it’s hard not to feel a little shame for laughing at such cheap tactics. Or maybe that’s just age showing.
Seriously, how was the freaking movie???
Oh, the movie? The Brothers Grimsby is pretty mediocre. That’s actually an indictment because it may have benefitted from being more awful as the premise of the film isn’t bad, it’s muddied up by the Cohen touch. It was actually like flipping back and forth between two movies — one a spy spoof, the other a plotless gross-out comedy — and in the end you’re left feeling dirty.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Mark Strong
Poor Mark Strong. Playing straight man to a Cohen character must not be easy. He does his best but I guess his best isn’t good enough to save The Brothers Grimsby from itself.
- Those Scenes You’ll Talk About
That elephant scene, though. What the heck?
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Sacha Baron Cohen
For his next film, Cohen needs to ram himself up the ass of the shark he jumped.
- Cramming It In
The only thing some of the jokes are missing is a crowbar to knock you over your head if you aren’t laughing. Or a wheelchair, apparently.